On this week's podcast episode we sit down with Hayley Akins of Motion Hatch to discuss the motion design community.
Hayley has a pretty interesting story when it comes to how she found herself in this industry, and it's another example of the strange convergence of events and influences that can lead a person in a direction they never imagined they'd go. If you're curious about the business of Motion Design, if you're already part of the Motion Hatch community, or if you're curious to learn about the person behind this amazing new site... you are going to love Hayley. Let's do it!
Hayley Akins Show Notes
Hayley Akins Transcript
Joey: All right Hayley, it's awesome to finally get you on the School of Motion podcast. Thank you for your time, and I have so many questions for you.
Hayley: Yeah, thanks so much for having me on the show.
Joey: Well, I've been wanting to have you on ever since I heard about Motion Hatch, and got to meet you, and I'm glad we finally got the opportunity. So, I first found out about you because you reached out, you started Motion Hatch, which for anyone listening that's not familiar, is this amazing website, and podcast, and community, and now even products that are really focused on the business side of motion design, which that holds a very dear place in my heart obviously. I know that before that for years you've been doing client work, and I think you still do client work, so I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit of your background. How did you get into the motion design industry?
Hayley: Yeah, sure. Well, I didn't really know that I wanted to be a motion designer or an animator. You know you kind of hear about all these people they're like, "Yeah, when I was younger I was watching Nickelodeon, and I really wanted to be an animator." That wasn't really my experience. When I was at school, I struggled a little bit because I was dyslexic, and ended up in a lot of the lower set classes, because I wasn't very academic, but then was very creative, and just wanted to do creative things, and mainly wanted to be in a band, and stuff like that. I always interview people on my podcast and they're always like, "Yeah, it's 'cause I wanted to be in a band, and then somehow I became a motion designer."
Joey: I get it, yep.
Hayley: It's kind of a similar story here. So, yeah so I wasn't very academic but I loved learning, and being creative, and I really wanted to go to university, which is what you do from when you're 18 ... I'm aware it's a U.S. audience, so I'm trying to-
Joey: Thank you. Thank you for translating.
Hayley: ... figure out. Yeah, so I wanted to go to university, but I was not really academic, and there was this one story my dad told me recently, which I thought was kinda sad, but kind of interesting, is that we went to the careers office ... you have a careers advisor or something at school, and we went in there and we sat down, and I was like, "Hey, yeah, I wanna go to university.", and I was the first person in my family to get the opportunity, and they were like, "Oh, well maybe you can work in your dad's bakery.", or something like that.
Hayley: I don't really remember this, but he was really upset about that, because I think ... obviously this was years, and years ago and I'm sure the education system has got a lot better in the U.K. now, but they just didn't think that I could do that. I guess they were sort of thinking that maybe I would do something academic at university, so then I wouldn't be able to hack it or whatever. So yeah, I just thought I'd bring that up, 'cause it was kind of like, I just really wanted to carry on education, and really wanted to carry on learning. Anyway, I pushed through it, and I went to do A levels, which is between the age of 16 and 18, and I did psychology, philosophy, and religious studies, which-
Joey: All right, all right.
Hayley: ... it was crazy. Yes, it's a really weird thing to do, but basically it's because when I was a kid I used to go to these Buddhist festivals with my dad, and I was just really interested about religion, and just learning about different things, and I guess just interested in people in a way, and what makes them tick. I did that for a couple of years, but I really wanted to be in a band, so I was in a few bands, and then I met someone who was a little bit older than me, who went to Staffordshire University, and did a film production and music technology course, and I thought, Okay, if I go and do music tech then I can be in a band basically, and be creative.", which is what I always wanted to do.
Hayley: Yeah, apparently that was the only university I went to to visit as well, which was Staffordshire, so it's lucky that I got in, really, because I didn't really give myself any other option, I was just like, "Nope, I'm gonna do film production, and music tech." All the other options I chose were philosophy, so yeah I'm really, really glad that I didn't end up doing philosophy, because that would've been very bad, 'cause it'd just be writing essays all the time, and I'm really rubbish at that.
Joey: Just thinking, and pondering a lot.
Hayley: Yeah, I mean I found it really interesting, it was a great subject, but yeah I wouldn't be here speaking to you right now if I did that so that would've-
Joey: Oh God, your life would've turned out awful-
Hayley: ... been silly.
Joey: ... Hayley, clearly.
Hayley: No, no I would've been ... I have no idea what I would've been doing, but anyway.
Joey: Let me stop you for a second, 'cause I wanna dig into this a little bit. So, it's interesting ... my wife is dyslexic, and had a horrible experience coming up through school. The U.S. in the '80s, when she was really young, had really no help for dyslexic students, and it was really not well understood, but then later on, and now we have children, and we see a lot of those signs in our children. We haven't gotten them tested or anything but there's a good chance they would be diagnosed as dyslexic, at least our oldest, but what's interesting is that, to me, what it seems like is, people who are dyslexic, they sort of process information differently, which has downsides.
Joey: It makes it harder to decode letters, and the typical things of it's harder to learn to read, and things like that, but then it also, it creates these interesting connections. I have an eight year old daughter who comes up with the most creative weird thoughts, and it's almost like I don't know where they're coming from, and my wife says, "Ah, that's exactly how I was when I was a kid." I'm curious if that creativity, and that attraction to music, and now obviously to motion design, to art, if you remember feeling that as a kid, even though in school you were probably being told, "Oh, you're a terrible student."?
Hayley: Yeah, I think it was really tough because I like I said, I was put in ... they called them the bottom sets, they probably don't call them the bottom sets now, but when I was there-
Joey: That's very ... yeah, it doesn't sound very nice.
Hayley: ... they were like, "Oh, the bottom sets." You kind of have tiers of classes, what people are in, and the people who'd do well get put with the other people who do well, and then the people who don't do as well get put in the lower classes, and then you get a lot of other kids that are messing around and stuff in there, and I found that really hard because I really wanted to learn, and I really tried my best always, and I wanted to hang around with the [smartie 00:08:39] kids, and then ... but I got put with these other kids who didn't wanna learn, and I always found that really tough.
Hayley: Yeah, I think it probably is that thing of I just probably learnt in a different way. I did get quite a lot of extra help, which I was grateful for. Extra time on exams, and stuff like that, but I just wasn't an exam kind of person. I can't do that. I do much better at practical things. I guess that's why motion design, stuff like that, and being in a band because that ... yeah, it just appeals to me, I just do better in those things rather than writing stuff down.
Joey: That makes sense, that makes a lot of sense. Another thing I wanted to ask you was right now, in the U.S. anyway, especially in public schools, arts, creative arts, and music, and illustration, all those sorts of things, basically are gone. They just get stripped away, and there's just no important placed on them, but for students like you, and like my wife was, and like my daughter would be, I mean we home school, but if she went to school she would definitely be in this category, are pulled more towards these creative arts. I'm curious if when you were in school if art and music were, I don't know, second class citizen's kind of the way that they are now in a lot of schools?
Hayley: Yeah, I think they definitely were, and then I think one other thing that didn't really help me is when we ... we chose which [GCSE 00:10:13] we got to do, what exams, what subjects, and my sister was a really, really good artist, she's excellent, to this day she's really, really good. So, I thought, "Oh, everyone who's gonna be the same age as me, 'cause I'm older, they're gonna be as good as my sister, who's younger doing art, so I shouldn't do it.", which I think is ridiculous. I was so ... why did I do that? It was so stupid, because I just thought, "Well she's really good, and she's younger than me, so obviously I can't do art.", which is-
Joey: Right, might as well not even try, right?
Hayley: Yeah, which is really ridiculous. Obviously I never spoke to my parents or anything about that because they probably would've said, "No, everybody's probably rubbish, it's just your sister's really good." But then another sweet thing that she said to me years later was, "Oh, that's 'cause I used to copy off you when you were younger.", and I was like, "Really? What?" Yeah, it was just-
Joey: Comes full circle.
Hayley: Yeah, it was just a crazy thing. Anyway, I feel like we didn't have ... I don't think we had any music lessons at secondary school, but we definitely had ... art was definitely an option, but now I hear there's some new more options for people, which is great. Yeah, I think, as well, I think on just talking about the business side of things I think that needs to be focused on a lot more in school. I actually did a business GCSE, and it was the thing I got the highest mark on when I left school, which I think is a little bit telling. Yeah, I thought that was interesting. I just looked that up recently, and I was like, "I got the highest grade on business studies."
Joey: So, how did you end up working at a studio? I mean, were you ... did you sort of do the Andrew Kramer route, and teach yourself a little After Effects, how'd you get into it?
Hayley: Yeah, so I said I went to Staffordshire University and did film production and music tech, then I dropped the music tech part, because I thought, "This isn't about being in a band at all. I don't wanna do it. It's too techy." So I just did film production, so I graduated with a degree in film production, and we did a lot of After Effects and Photoshop modules, which really helped because it was much more practical than a film studies degree. So then I just looked for jobs basically doing ... being a runner, being an editor, anything. It was mainly either, my choices were, move to London, or move to Manchester, at the time. I think now there's a lot more different opportunities in the U.K., I mean obviously it's still heavily London focused. So, I just looked for different jobs, and I just happened to get a job as a GenioGraphics operator in a sports broadcasting company, and I really hate sport.
Hayley: But I was like, "I'm not making the tea."
Joey: That's a weird title. So, graphics operator, what does that mean?
Hayley: Yeah, so it's not a motion designer, it's basically working with this system called Clarity, where you're plugging in stuff that you make in After Effects into this Clarity system, and it's like a live graphics system. It's like a bit of hardware. I'm trying to remember from many years ago, so I hope this is right, but yeah it's like a bit of hardware, and it kind of ... so when they're doing live football matches, things like that, you would cue the graphic and then it would pull up the score, like 1 - nil to Chelsea, or whatever.
Joey: Got you.
Hayley: It was like live gallery sort of work. I didn't really like it.
Joey: So you really were just a button pusher at that point.
Hayley: Yeah, yeah. Basically just calling up, cueing up the graphics, and stuff like that, or typing in over some pre-made graphic someone had made, basically, doing live football games.
Joey: And you didn't get to design or animate any of that stuff?
Hayley: No, my first job I didn't get to design or animate, but then I really wanted to do that, 'cause just in my head I was like, "Okay well, so I didn't really like this, what's the most creative thing I can do in the building?", and I was like, "Well, maybe I can make the graphics." That would be more creative-
Hayley: ... actually doing the design side of it. So then I got promoted to a junior motion designer, so I guess that's the start of the journey in that company, and then ... 'cause I had a heavily sports background, I really wanted to move out of sport, but I found it quite difficult, because everyone would be like, well you haven't done anything else, you've only done sports for a few years. So then I went for another junior motion design role.
Hayley: I looked online and I just found this company, they were called Across the Pond, and I was like, "Oh, they seem nice. They like a quite a small company, they looked quite new." I went for the interview and I arrived at the office, and there was a big Google logo, and it was in the Google office, and I was like, "Have I come to the wrong place?" I didn't understand what was going on. But anyway, it turned that Across the Pond were the internal video production company at the time inside Google, so yeah it was really interesting-
Joey: Good for them.
Hayley: Yeah. It was like ... I was just shocked, because they didn't have a site or anything, they were quite new at that time, and they basically built themselves out of Google. The woman who started it, she started as a producer at Google, and then she saw a need for video there, or motion design, so she started up this company, so that's why they were quite new. So then I got that job there, and then worked my way up to senior motion designer.
Joey: So you said that when you left the sport's graphics job, that it was hard for you to move into something that wasn't sports, was that just because on your reel and your portfolio that's all you had?
Hayley: Yeah, mainly. It was like ... well, it was hard for me to go into, say a middle weight job, I guess, because I didn't have tons of experience that was outside of the sport's arena.
Joey: Yeah, well it's interesting, because that's a pretty common problem in our industry, this whole idea of clients, and even some studios they wanna hire you for what you have done, not what you might be able to do, and I'm just curious if you took any lessons away from that?
Hayley: I think, maybe, don't stay at a company for years that you don't really wanna be at, and just push yourself to do something else. I think I was really young and I was kind of worried that, "Oh, I can't go freelance, oh, i can't do anything else. This is all I know, I've got to just try and somehow find another full time job." I mean, who knows whether I would've got freelance jobs back them. I'm not really sure, but I guess it's like, just maybe having a bit more confidence to move sooner so I didn't end up with quite a lot of sports stuff on my reel, maybe move somewhere else a bit earlier in my career or something like that would've helped.
Joey: That's really good advice actually. So, okay, so you go from sports company, and then you get this cool job in Google's office, you move up to senior motion designer. So then what made you decide to leave and go freelance?
Hayley: Yeah so, I think it was like ... I spent quite a few years there. I think I was there for about maybe four and a half years, so up until then I worked full time as a motion designer, almost six years. That's a lot longer than most people. So I just felt like, "Oh, I wanna give freelancing a try.", and also I was running projects at Google as a senior motion designer, running the group of freelancers on big Google projects, and things like that. So, I just felt like there isn't really much other things I could do here that I haven't already done, so I felt like I should do that. I think it took me a long time. I think I was thinking about probably for half the time I was there, maybe two years, or one and half years that I was sitting there going, "Yeah, maybe I could be a freelancer."
Joey: Just working up the courage, right?
Hayley: Yeah, I think loads of people listening to this are probably thinking, "That's what I'm thinking right now."
Joey: Yep. So, when you finally made the jump, what was that transition like for you?
Hayley: Well, 'cause I'd spent so much time thinking about it, and also building up a lot of contacts, 'cause working full time obviously the good thing to do is keep in touch with everyone, write stuff down, have a spreadsheet. So, I was pleased that I did that, and I was quite good at staying friends with people when they left. A lot of the time we had a lot of freelance producers coming in and out, and things like that, so that really helped, because it was ... it's all about meeting people, and networking, and things like that, even though it's kind icky, but it does help.
Joey: Icky, it's not icky if you ... so let me say something Hayley. One of the things that we always tell people, and obviously I talk about freelancing a lot, the most important thing, I think, in terms of being a successful freelancer, it's not being this kick ass rockstar motion designer, it's just being someone that your clients would like to be around, because whether you're doing it remote, or if you're going to their office, or whatever, you're communicating a lot with your clients, and you are just sort of naturally, I think, a very likable person.
Joey: So I'm sure that helped too, but I kinda wanted to call that out, because I think some people who are thinking about going freelance, they don't realize just how important that piece is. Not just that you're likable, but that you're not super shy, and are willing to network even if it makes you feel a little bit icky. I hope it doesn't make you feel too icky, 'cause it is super important.
Hayley: No, yeah exactly. I think what you said is really right because I was very aware that I wanted to go freelance, so for the past the last two years, say, that I was there, I was making sure that I was staying friends with people, and being good to work with, and generally being a nice person. I was always kind of come from that mindset anyway of always try your best, and things like that. So, I think that really comes across, and yeah, like you say, people would be surprised how much work you can get from just being a nice person to work with.
Joey: I know, it's kinda that simple sometimes. So I wanna get into Motion Hatch, but before we get there, there was something I saw on your LinkedIn page that was kinda interesting I wanted to ask you about. I think it was in the bio that you wrote about yourself, you said that you've spoken on the topic of the importance of choosing projects wisely, and I think you said it in the context of you wanna work on projects that make the world a better place, and you've actually spoken about this. I'm curious what you mean by that, can you talk a little bit about that?
Hayley: Yeah so, it's kind of that thing of trying to think about who your clients are, and what kind of projects that you wanna work on. For me, I always just felt like I wanna work with people who share my values, who generally are doing stuff that has a positive impact on the world. So, it could be stuff about sustainable energy, things like that. Animation projects about that, that seems more worth while to me, than say, I don't know, doing an ad for Iceland or something. Not to call out Iceland-
Joey: Right, and oil company or something.
Hayley: Oh, yeah exactly. Iceland isn't that bad. Yeah, like an oil company, that's a much better example, Joey.
Joey: I am apologizing on behalf of Hayley to Iceland.
Hayley: Yeah, everyone on Iceland's like, "Oh my God."
Joey: Oh my God. Have you said no to projects because they were for a product that you ... that didn't align with your values?
Hayley: Yeah definitely, and I try and actively seek out those clients now, who I know that I'm like, "Oh yeah, I like what they're doing." I'm gonna shoot them an email, and say, "Hey, I think it's really cool what you're working on, I'm really passionate about this subject too, maybe we can just have a chat about it." That kind of thing. So yeah, I was talking about that. It was like a super short little speech I guess, because it was for this festival called Reasons To, and it was called the Elevator Pitch, and you had ... I think there was like 10 of us. It was like doing speakers bootcamp. It was the scariest thing ever.
Hayley: But yeah, it's scarier than doing a 45 minute presentation because you get on stage, and then they're like, "Okay you've got three minutes, speak about something." So I was like, "Okay, what am I gonna speak about? Well, the most important thing to me is using your design for good, so I'm gonna try and speak about that." So, I was just saying, "If you're struggling for stuff to think about you could maybe look at B Corps.", 'cause I know in the U.K., I think in the U.S. too, they have a certification that's called a B Corp.
Hayley: Basically B Corps are companies that are using the power of business to have a positive impact on the world, for change, stuff like that. They have to go through a rigorous thing to get this certification. So, I was saying maybe you could use that as a place to search for clients. Just trying to think outside the box of where to look for clients, and not just being like, "Oh yeah, I'll just do work on anything because I'll just take anything I can get really."
Joey: Right, right. It's really ... I think it's a great message, and it's great that you do that. I think what you were calling a B Corp, I assume is a non-profit in the U.S., a company that basically, they don't have to pay taxes on corporate profits, which most charities are set up that way for that reason, but what you're saying it reminds me a lot of things I've heard Erica [Gorochaw 00:24:06] say. She spoke at the [Blind 00:24:09] conference a year and a half ago, and basically said "Motion design is a super power. It's like you have this persuasive tool set with using visuals, and audio, and conceptual meaning, and visual language, and you can deploy that on behalf of a client to help convince their customers to do something.
Joey: So, you can use that to get ... to help Walmart sell a few more diapers, or you can use it to help get people out to vote, which ... so it's really cool to hear you do that. Sander van Dijk has also talked about this, and I think it's something that as motion design becomes more prevalent, and our industry start ... especially artists in our industry start to realize the power that you wield, I think it's important to think about, and I'm glad that you talk about it publicly. That's really cool.
Joey: So, now let's talk about the newest thing that you've hatched ... see what I did there? See how I did that?
Joey: So, what was the ... obviously anyone listening, we're gonna have links to everything in the show notes, but definitely check out Motion Hatch. The Motion Hatch podcast is excellent. There's a Facebook community, but where did the motivation for this come from. Can you talk about sort of the genesis of Motion Hatch?
Hayley: Yeah, I wanted to go back on the B Corp thing for a second, because-
Joey: Oh, sure, yeah [crosstalk 00:25:36] let me just-
Hayley: ... just because-
Joey: ... see myself out here.
Hayley: No, no, just because yeah it's not the same as a non-profit, it's like a certificate that you get when you're using your business to usually solve social and environmental problems, but it's kind of businesses that are balancing purpose and profit, so it can be businesses that make profit too. I know there's a pet food company that my friend works for called Lily's Kitchen, and it's just kind of ... they're required to consider the impact of the decisions on their workers and their customers, and their suppliers, and their community, and the environment, and things like that. I just wanted to clear that up.
Joey: Oh no, thank you. That's funny, I've never actually heard of that, and I just Googled it and low and behold there's this whole thing. So, we'll link to that in the show notes too, 'cause that's really interesting, and I'm gonna have to learn a little bit more about that apparently so I don't stick my foot in my mouth next time someone brings that up. Thank you Hayley, I appreciate that. Cool, all right, so now let's talk about Motion Hatch a little bit. Where did this come from?
Hayley: Yeah so, I guess the idea originally came from ... when I went freelance I felt like there wasn't really anything around. I had to take my freelance friends to the pub and be like, "Hey what are you charging? How do you run your businesses?" Thins like that, and it was sort of like I felt like it was a big jigsaw trying to piece it all together. I didn't really feel like there was anything out there that was particularly discussing the business side of things, or even career side of things. Now there's obviously a little bit more, but when I went freelance, I think 3 years ago, or maybe a little bit more than that, there wasn't as much stuff around.
Hayley: So, I sort of felt like, "Oh, someone should do that.", but then I kinda forgot about it. Yeah, so I basically just carried on freelancing, and then I was thinking "Oh, well I'd like to do a bit more traveling because I don't wanna be one of those freelancers that just works all the time, and is too scared to take a holiday.", 'cause I think that's really silly. That's the power of being freelance, you can just go, "I'm gonna take a month off." So, that's what I did, and I went to-
Joey: Good for you.
Hayley: ... Thailand and Myanmar with my friend, and basically before that I was thinking, "Oh, I don't really know anything about traveling." I didn't do a gap year or anything like that, so I'm gonna listen to some travel podcasts, 'cause that's how I get my information, through podcasts. Yeah, so I found these two podcasts by these two guys, they were two different travel podcasts, and it happened that they did a podcast together, that was called Location Indie, and it was basically about running businesses and traveling.
Hayley: So, I was like, "Oh, I'm interested in that. It sounds good." So, I started listening to that and then I joined their community, and it was just really, really helpful. They talked a lot about running businesses, and being freelance, and online businesses, and then also how to travel while working, and all this kind of stuff, and I just thought, "This is super interesting, someone should do this for motion designers."
Hayley: So, I kept coming back, but I didn't make the connection for a while, and then I sort of just ... I don't ... it's not like you wake up one day and you go, "Yes, I will do this now." You just kind of ... the ideas just start building up, and then you start speaking to different people, and then you're like, "Maybe I could be the person to do this." So yeah, I met another guy called Jeremy who was a podcast editor, and he was traveling around the U.K. and we met through a Location Indie meetup, and he was like, "Oh, that's a really cool idea. I also edit this podcast that does a similar thing but for wedding videos and stuff like that, you should listen to it. Maybe you should do a podcast.", and I was like, "I would do a podcast but I hate my voice, and probably everyone else will." It's that thing where [inaudible 00:29:30] it comes in all the time. I can see it so much throughout my life, I'm like, "Why do you just listen ... just do it anyway."
Hayley: So anyway, I was thinking, "I can't do that, no one's gonna listen to it, how would I get on any guests on the show, it would be horrible." I couldn't really write very well, obviously, because we talked about all the dyslexia thing and things like that, so I was like, "Okay, well I guess I have to do this, 'cause I'm okay at talking. I'm sure I can do a podcast." It's like the other option, you have to write, or you have to talk, or you have to be on video, and I was like, "Okay, so podcasting seems like the least scary so I'm gonna do that."
Joey: That makes sense, yep.
Hayley: Yeah that was literally how I thought about it. So I was like, "Okay, I'm gonna just try and do that." So yeah, I launched with a podcast has been the main thing, and because ... yeah, Jeremy had a podcasting, he runs a podcasting company now, and he helped me so much just build ... decide how many episodes to record, and all this kind of stuff, so I guess it wouldn't be a big thing if it wasn't for him pushing me. It's just really interesting because I think a lot of opportunities come from outside of the motion design industry, and you don't really realize it. You can meet people and they can influence you ... it's like that same old thing that everyone always says, you're the average of five people around you, or something like that. I think that was definitely the case with this.
Joey: I love that ... first of all, what you just said is it rings really true to me, because a lot of the inspiration behind things that we do at School of Motion they don't come from the motion design industry, they come from a million other places, but I didn't know that you got a lot of these ideas from the Location Independent community, or the digital nomad community, sometimes they're called. There's another really good podcast you may have heard of it, called Tropical MBA-
Joey: ... and that's what they talk about. I used to listen to that when I was in my previous life as a creative director, and I would fantasize about having the ability to pick up and leave, and have a business that can keep going even when I'm out of the country, and it's funny you bring that up, 'cause actually tomorrow I'm getting on an airplane and my family and I are going to Europe for three weeks, and now School of Motion can obviously operate without me, but it can also be operated from a laptop anywhere in the world. Is that something that you're talking about through Motion Hatch, and trying to ... 'cause it seems like motion designers are in a really good position to take advantage of that lifestyle. Get a powerful laptop and an internet connection, you can pretty much do motion design from any coffee shop in the world.
Hayley: Yeah, definitely I think I am trying to talk about that more, because obviously I really like working remotely, and I do that for most of my clients now. I just had someone recently on the Motion Hatch podcast, Tom Davis, and he traveled around Europe for a bit doing this, so we just released an episode about that actually. So yeah, it's definitely something that I think is worth exploring if you're interested in it, and I just really like the idea that ... I think that more, and more motion designers will be working remotely, and there's less, and less need for people to be sat in a seat for eight hours a day and things like that.
Hayley: You can just ... like you say, all you need is a laptop and stuff, and then also, we were talking about, on the podcast, how it can bring different opportunities, because you can meet different people building different businesses remotely, and then you can get more remote clients that way, because if you're hanging out with all these people who are building remote businesses, "Hey, maybe they need some motion design." You know?
Joey: Right, everybody needs motion design now, it's true.
Joey: So, I wanna hear about, what was your experience like when you started the podcast? Obviously I'm sure it was scary and all of that, but was it difficult for you to book guests and to come up with questions, and all that stuff? Was there any surprising things you learned about the process?
Hayley: One thing I will say, I'm really glad that I had an editor from the beginning because I wouldn't be able to do it otherwise. Not because of the skills, but because of time. I'm still working pretty much as a full-time freelancer right now, and just trying to do Motion Hatch on the side, and having a biweekly podcast come out it is really difficult. It's much tougher than people think 'cause you have to actually sit down. So, we've done 21 or 22 Episodes up to now, depends on when this comes out I think but, that's like I thought about it the other day, that's like 22 hours of me talking to people.
Joey: It's crazy right?
Hayley: That's crazy to think, you've done like 52 or something, I don't know which one this will be, but you have to sit there for hours and hours, and talk to people, and explain things, and stuff like that, and think of questions, and reach out to people all the time, email people and be like, "Hey do you want to be on the podcast, blah blah blah?" Yeah, it can be quite tough, but I just love it now.
Hayley: I love talking to people, and it's just brought me so many opportunities, and I think it's awesome being on this podcast, and you're on my podcast. I remember when I first started when I contacted you, Motion Hatch wasn't even in existence, I don't think, and I was like, "Oh, I really want to get Joey on the podcast, but he's not going to come on because no one know whose I am or what I'm doing, and then you were like, "Sure I'll come on the podcast.", and then I was like, "Wow, this is amazing. You can just ask people and they'll come on your podcast?"
Joey: I know I have that same reaction all the time, and what's funny is that once you get a little bit of momentum and you have a few episodes out it's actually pretty easy to get people to come on a podcast these days, but when you're starting out I know exactly how you feel. It's like, "Well, why would they come on a podcast no one's heard of me?", but then the truth is that most people are way more than happy to come on and try to add value to a conversation. I know a lot of people listening have probably thought about starting a podcast, and even if it's not a motion design podcast I would say give it a shot, because it's one of the most rewarding parts of my job, and I can tell by the way that you talk about it, Hayley, that you really love it too. I want to hear also about your Facebook group because you have a very large Facebook group now for Motion Hatch. Where did the idea for that come from and what is that Facebook group?
Hayley: Yeah so, it's basically like a community where people can go and ask business questions. We have three moderators and me now in there because I want to try and keep it really, really focused on the business side of things, because obviously everyone's got different places and Facebook groups for everything else, and inspiration, and stuff like that. So, we're trying to be, "Nope this is a business one. You come here and you learn about freelancing, and careers, and all this kind of stuff."
Joey: None of this inspiration nonsense.
Hayley: Yeah, don't come here for inspiration. No, that's fine, but we have different things, so we have WIP Wednesdays so you can post your work in there still but it's quite structured. So WIP Wednesday you post what you're working on for that week, and then Freelance Friday, you can say what your wins of the week are, and we kind of just support each other. I guess how it started was because I was just chatting to one of the Location Indie guys ... see, there's a theme here, and he was like ... I was like, "Oh, I just don't know how to start. I don't know where to start, I don't know what should be the first thing I put out, blah, blah, blah."
Hayley: I knew that I wanted to build a community, but I think I was thinking of all these crazy things that I could do, like build a forum, or build a whole website with a community, and stuff like that, but then I thought ... he was just like, "Just start small. Just do a Facebook group, and invite people to join it.", and I was like, "Oh, okay yeah." Its something so simple, but it makes so much sense, and then now it's just growing really big, it's crazy. I think there's maybe 3,000 people in there. It's quite a lot.
Joey: That's amazing. Hopefully when this episode comes out you get a bunch more in there, because it's free to join right? You just have to apply and get accepted?
Hayley: Yeah, yeah basically you just answer some questions, I think they're basically like, "Are you a motion designer?"
Hayley: There might be a couple more, but yeah if you're listening to this, I think you're definitely qualified to join the Motion Hatch community.
Joey: That's awesome. So, Motion Hatch is really focused, and I love that even the Facebook group, you've sort of moderated it in a way ... by the way I wanna give a shout out to WIP Wednesday, that is genius. I really like that.
Joey: So, it's really focused on the business side of things, and I'm guessing that the reason that that's the case is because of experiences you had maybe when you went freelance, and challenges you faced. So, I'm wondering if you can talk about some of the business challenges that you had to overcome that now you're hoping to help other artists through?
Hayley: Yeah, well there's so many, right? I think some of the things are like, "Should I get an accountant? Where do I get an accountant?" All this stuff comes up all the time, and it's definitely things that I didn't know what I was doing. I was like, "Do I need an accountant? Do I have to set up as a limited company?" I know in the U.S. it's like LLC, but they're basically the similar stuff.
Hayley: So yeah, it was just all these questions that I didn't know answers to, and like I said before I just had to ask my freelance friends. Things like, "Should I get insurance for my business?", and stuff like that. This stuff comes up in the group all the time, and it's really, really handy, because if I can't answer it, then somebody else can. I think it's definitely all the same things that I went through, and now we're just trying to put it in one place basically where it's easy for people to access it, and there's also people from all around the world. So, it's not like it's just really U.K. focused because I'm running it, if that makes sense.
Joey: Yeah, for sure. That was one of the things I wanted to ask you about actually, because you've got a worldwide audience, and I'm not in that Facebook group, but I'm assuming that you've got a lot of different countries represented there, and they all have different laws, and tax codes, and things like that. Do you find that that creates any issues with ... "In the U.K. do it this way, but in Poland don't do it that way because it's against the law.", or something like that?
Hayley: Most of the stuff is kind of the same, because most of the stuff is pricing and stuff like that, but that in itself is a bit tricky, because obviously you have different prices everywhere. I'll say one thing for the community is good because there is loads of people from everyone in it, so yeah if I don't know somebody else is gonna know, or we can help find out basically, 'cause it's like, the same things come up like insurance, accounting, pricing, how to get clients, things like that. Some of the stuff is universal, but then some of it is more in that country, but then I just encourage people to say in the Facebook like, "Hey, is anyone from so and so place? I need help with this."
Hayley: Usually there's somebody else who's gone through that same thing, and they're more than happy to help. I'm pretty happy about the group because it's really engaged and everyone really does wanna help, and every post has a lot of answers on it, and people are trying to jump at the chance to help out each other, which is really nice, because I know that some groups are very like, "Here's my work, here's my work, here's my work.", and not much else. I'm really happy about that.
Joey: Right. Well, that's a testament to ... I think Facebook groups and even online message boards of any kind, they sort of take on a little bit of the personality of the person that started it, and I think that's a testament to you. You obviously want to help people, you've created this amazing resource, it sounds incredible. It's definitely something I wish had existed when I first went freelance, that would've been very, very handy.
Joey: So, you talked about some of the questions that you brought up that your audience has, should I get an accountant, where do I find one, those to me, those are sort of the smaller easier things to pick off, but what are some of the big things that you really wanna help your community with? Some of the things that ... not having an accountant's bad, you should have one, but you can probably get by without one for a couple years, use Turbo Tax or something like that, but there's some things that will cripple you if you don't do them right. I'm curious if there's anything like that that you focus on?
Hayley: Yeah, I think it's stuff like ... the big things are probably like not starting to charge high enough when you start out, and things like that, because I think if you say you're a new freelancer, and you're like, "Hey, but I'm new, so I should just charge not very much, like $200 of something." I'm trying to think of a low number, but if you do that then it's gonna be really hard to raise your rate later on to something that'd you'd actually want to charge. So, I think there's big mistakes like that that people make where it's good to start out and come in the group, and say, "Hey, I was thinking about this, do you think that sounds about right?", and stuff like that, because I think people wanna help each other.
Hayley: I'm always trying to push everyone to raise their prices or at least start their ask high, because we know that everyone's always gonna negotiate you down, so you may as well start higher than you think, because then they're probably gonna negotiate down to something that you're more happy with. That's kind of a biggie, but it's a tough one. That's probably the hardest thing to solve. That's the biggest thing I wanna solve, but it's I think ... yeah, it's really hard, because the problem is everyone charges different things in different countries, and obviously you can't really say, "Oh, this is the one rate."
Joey: Right. Yeah, so have you noticed ... I mean, obviously the rate in the Philippines or something, is gonna be different than the rate in San Francisco, but are there any general guidelines that you tell new artist? I mean, and I guess to make it a little easier to answer we can say in places where there is a motion design industry. At this point I think most countries have motion ... some form of a motion design industry, but obviously you've still got the major markets in the U.S., Canada, and then a lot of European countries, and a lot of the bigger Asian countries. Are there any trends you've seen or places to start for our listeners who aren't sure what they should be charging?
Hayley: Yeah so, I think the most important thing to do is think about how much you need to make to survive, if that makes sense, because ... and it's even more than that, because I know in the U.S. you have healthcare, and taxes and everything like that, so you can't just say, "Oh, when I was full-time I was earning this much of my salary, so I'll just divide that by how many days in the year and then charge that."
Joey: Don't do that.
Hayley: Yeah, that's not gonna work. So, don't do that. I would say try and ask the people around you if you can get into different communities, like Motion Hatch, or locally as well, that's really good. I think I just challenge people to ask for a little bit more than they think is the general thing that I go with, because I always think that when I do it I always have, "This is my day rate, and then I have ...", so I ask for that, and then I have a middle rate, where I'm like, "Okay I'm happy if I get rate.", and then I have my lowest rate, where I'm like, "If they go below that I'm just gonna say no. It doesn't matter what it is." Then you judge it on who they are as well.
Hayley: It's like, who's the company, things like that. I just fluctuate between those rates, but then I definitely have a bottom one where I'm like, "No, no matter what, I'm not gonna go below that.", and then it makes it really, really easy to negotiate people about rates because you're really clear in your mind what you want out of it.
Joey: I love that it's almost like you can take the approach of, well, these are the rules, and I'm just following the rules, so I have to say no. Yeah.
Hayley: That's what I say always in my head, because well I used to get into trouble with this. When I was working full-time and stuff when I was younger I used to ... you go into your appraisal whatever, and you just think, "Okay, I'll wait for them to tell me if I deserve a pay raise.", or whatever like that, but then I started thinking about it in the way of how much value am I providing to the company, and how can I let them know that I'm doing that so they can see that I deserve a pay raise, or a promotion, rather than thinking of it from a ... I just want to get a pay raise. You're sort of thinking it in the way of from the company's perspective, not making it really personal, it's more like, "How am I helping them ... usually how am I helping them make money, so then therefore I should be getting part of that back.", if that makes sense?
Joey: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, and especially when you're on staff I think it's good to realize that if you get a $4,000 pay raise, well to you that might be a lot of money, 4,000 bucks is a lot, but to the company, that would be a rounding error on their ... if they're billing millions of dollars a year. That doesn't mean they'll always give you the raise, but it can help with that guilty feeling that I think a lot of artists feel. Especially when you get more experienced and you get further in your career, especially if you're freelance, you can start charging dollar amounts that might feel, in some cases they may almost feel excessive. I'm curious if you have any advice for people who have that little voice in their head saying, "You're being greedy here, you're charging too much.", even though you might be able to charge, say, a Google, or a big company like that a really high rate?
Hayley: Yeah so, I think that comes back the thing of you have to look at the company. I'm not saying you should just go around charging excessive amounts to every little business. I think it's like ... you have to ... this is a problem with this kinda thing, it's very situation to situation based, but then you ... that's why I think it's good to have these general rules around how much you're charging, and then it's more easy for you when you get a new client to go, "Okay well, normally I charge this, but actually I know that they're ..." I don't know a charity or something, not that sometimes charities have really big budgets, so don't get caught out by that, but sometimes they don't. So then you say, "Okay, I know they're a charity and they just want this little thing. So maybe I'll charge my lower rate that I wouldn't normally charge a big company like Nike or something, if that makes sense."
Hayley: Do you see what I mean?
Hayley: I think it's ... I wouldn't ... I would always say ... I wouldn't feel guilty because you're making money, you're running a business. That's why I think it's good to think about these things of like, "I'm running a business, this is my business. It's not a personal thing." It's personal in the way that I'm always gonna do the best for my clients and things like that, and try and make the best animation possible for them, but it's not personal in the way as like, I'm doing this because I wanna be an animator, and I wanna survive being an animator, and I don't wanna be a starving artist, so I have to charge ... this is what I have to charge to do that.
Joey: That's a really good way of looking at it, and I think trying to separate the money ... I'm trying to think of how to put this. When you think of your work as a business, money comes in, and you have to play this mental trick with yourself where it's like, "Well, it's not my money, that's the businesses money.", and that business, it's almost like the lifeblood of that business. It needs the money to survive to pay me to keep working, but also to pay for classes, and spec projects, and things like that, that will improve the work you're able to do for your clients. So, it's not just about being paid the correct amount for your time, it's about being paid enough so you can invest back, into your business, even if it's just you freelancing. I think that's a really smart way to look at it, and it's the only way that you'll really be able to grow your business.
Hayley: Yeah, definitely. I think that's really true what you're saying, and it's just that thing of we're running businesses, we have to, otherwise you're not gonna be able to do it anymore. I'm just trying to get away from this idea that like, "Oh, we're animators, we're making creative things, it's really fun. I don't deserve to be paid for it, or whatever, I just deserve this little amount. I'm not gonna try and see how I can progress it.",
Hayley: Because at the end of the day I think if you can build yourself a good small business, that you're proud of, and that you make good work, and especially, I'm really trying to work towards the things I was talking about like, working more with clients who are having a positive impact on the world and things like that, that can be really beneficial for you and lots of other people too, and for your families and things like that. So, and you can do more traveling, and all sorts of things. I think it's really important to think about it in the way of it's not just about the money really, like you were saying, it's about all the things around it, and how building a good business can help you do other things.
Joey: I love it. The business is the platform, and that's all it is. Let's talk about the business, because you actually just launched recently your first product, and I'm really curious about it. I don't know too much about it. I know that it's a freelance contract bundle. So, can you just give us some background on it? What is this contract bundle?
Hayley: Yeah so, it's basically two contract templates that I made specially for motion designers. One's a commissioning contract, which is more for direct client, project fee type work, so it includes things like a scope of work, and terms and conditions.
Hayley: The other one is a terms of service contract, that's what we've called it, but it's basically a day rate, when you go into an agency or an animation studio contract, and that has terms and conditions, but then it doesn't really have a big scope of work like the other one does, but it has a mini scope of work at the end, which basically just says, "I'm gonna start work on this date, and I'm gonna finish on this date, and this is what I'm gonna do.", and that's because it relates to all the terms and conditions in there, which are things like cancellation fees, and assigning intellectual property, and payment, and project files, like assigning the project files or not, and things like that.
Joey: Perfect. Well, I mean that's definitely something that the average motion designer isn't gonna want to create on their own.
Joey: Even describing it I was like, "Oh, legalese." What was the motivation to create this contract bundle as your first product, 'cause I know that you've probably got a lot of ideas of ways you can help your community, but why contracts?
Hayley: Because I think it's the hardest thing, which I think is probably not a great decision on my behalf, is to start with the hardest thing, but that's just how it-
Joey: You got it out of the way.
Hayley: Yeah, just get out the way. So, I recorded a podcast episode with Silvia Baumgart, she's a solicitor in the U.K. who used to be the general manager at the Association of Illustrators, and she also did an intellectual property program at the University of Arts London, so she knows tons and tons about all this stuff. We spoke about different resources for motion designers in the U.K. in terms of law, and contracts, and things like that, and we were saying the AOI have got loads of great resources for illustrators, and it's really good, but it's not really made for animators as such.
Hayley: So, we're saying, "Yeah, maybe you could go there on the podcast.", and stuff like that, and just afterwards I was like, "Hey Silvia, why don't we make a contract template for motion designers?" It just made sense to me to do that really, because if ... obviously the Association of Illustrators is great, but it's not really for animators as such. So there's kind of different nuances and stuff to consider. So, I asked her if she would help me do that, and she said yes, so it was really great. We made the U.K. one, and that was really awesome.
Joey: Cool. So, obviously a really big portion of our audience is in the U.S., and by the time this episode drops the U.S. version of this contract bundle may already be live, so make sure you go to Motion Hatch and check, but Hayley, what was the process like for you to take that U.K. contract and create a version that will work for U.S. based artists.
Hayley: Yeah so, basically what I did was I created the U.K. one, and then we did a little prelaunch, like a presale thing, where we sold the U.K. one, and we kind of pre-sold the U.S. one. So, then I had took that money from the pre-launch, and gave it to the U.S. lawyer, so we're working with the U.S. lawyer now, as we speak, on the U.S. version, to create that for everyone. So it's like everyone who got the presale will get it, but then it'll also ... we'll do a relaunch of the U.K. and the U.S. one, which I think by the time this goes out will already be online and everything. So, I was gonna say, if everyone goes to motionhatch.com/som, like S-O-M for School of Motion, then I'm gonna put everything there once I know what's going on. So, you can go there and find out exactly where all this stuff is.
Joey: Perfect, okay and we'll link to that in the show notes as well, so thank you for doing that. Are you gonna see how this goes, and then potentially, would you think about doing other countries as well?
Hayley: Yeah, I've had a few questions about, I think mainly the ones that are popping up are Canada, 'cause even though I think it's kind of similar to the U.S., there are differences, and I spoke to the U.S. lawyer about that, and she said that it's quite similar but it's recommended to have a Canadian lawyer, so then we'd hire a Canadian lawyer to do that, and then Australia as well is another potential one, but I think at the moment, I'm just gonna see how the U.S., and the U.K. ones go.
Hayley: I would say that I think that you could get the U.K. or the U.S. one if you're in a different country as a good starting point, and then take it to a lawyer in your country, but you'd have to do that because obviously all the laws are different in different countries. It's definitely a good starting point because all the ... mainly the things that a motion designers are concerned about is gonna be similar stuff like cancellation fees, and payment schedules, and assigning intellectual property, and getting paid for project files, and things like that. So, that's all in there. I think it's a good kicking off point, but you'd have to take it to a lawyer in your own country.
Joey: That's awesome, and I love the way you kickstarted the U.S. version by pre-selling it, which is really, really smart. I always love when I see this intersection of entrepreneurship and motion design, and I think it's really, really cool what you're doing. So, you've got this one product that's come out, and it seems super duper useful, and helpful. You've got amazing Facebook community that's now moderated, you've got your podcast. What is your vision for Motion Hatch? What would you like to see it turn into?
Hayley: I think I just want it to be the place for motion designers to go for everything to do with the business side of things, and careers. I kinda wanna defeat the idea of the starving artist, like I said earlier, and maybe go more into universities or schools and talk about how to get into motion design, and things like that, and more speaking around the business side of things. I think really it's about the community, and having different meetups all around the world, and then having more people supporting each other. So, whether that's online, or meeting up in real life as well, I mean, there's so much. I just imagine it to be this big thing where you can go and it's all there, and you don't have to do what I do when I was first going freelance, and jigsaw it all together, and then you're asking people, and you're not sure if they really have the right answers.
Hayley: I just really want it to be a one stop shop motion design business.
Joey: Right, you're saving new artists a lot of pain by teaching them this stuff without them having to learn it the hard way, and I think it's a really amazing mission and I know ... I only hear good things about Motion Hatch, and about you, and I'm not surprised to see this success, and I know you're gonna have more. So, my last question is, do you see yourself doing this ... are you trying to turn this into your full-time job, or do you still see yourself doing a mix of client work, and this sort of, community building and teaching?
Hayley: Yeah so, I really love doing my client work, it's really fun too, but I think the problem is at the moment I feel like I have two full-time jobs, so I can definitely see that in the future it would probably be beneficial for Motion Hatch to be able to do it full-time, and build a sustainable business out of it, because then I can hopefully provide more value and more services to people, and build up doing more podcasts, and more causes, and things like that. I mean, it's just under a year old now, so I feel like it's just getting started, but yeah, I feel like eventually maybe I'd like to do it full time, just because of the fact that I know that I can do more stuff if I do it full-time.
Hayley: The other day I spoke to someone on a call from the community, and she was just about to go freelance, and she was asking me about the contract bundle, and things like that, and I just felt like ... I kinda looked at her, and I was like, "Wow, that was me." It was such a really weird surreal thing. I'd kinda morphed back into myself when I was in that position, and I felt like I would have just loved to have something like Motion Hatch available at that time. I think ... yeah, it made me really emotional, because I felt like, "Oh, I thought I still was that person, but now I'm a different person and I've learned loads of things."
Hayley: So, it's really, really nice to try and give some of that back, and just do as much as I can really. I think at the end of the day it's not about what I want Motion Hatch to be, and things like that, it's really about what the community wants, and I'm always trying to listen to what the motion design community wants from something like this, and just try and help that way really.
Joey: I wanna thank Hayley so much for coming on. She's quickly becoming a role model for young artists in the industry, and I think her attitude, ambition, and super friendly personality have a lot to do with Motion Hatch's success. Make sure you check out Motion Hatch and the newly released freelance contract bundle, and everything we talked about in this episode will be linked in the show notes at schoolofmotion.com, and while you're there, why not sign up for Motion Mondays.
Joey: Jeez, this episode has a lot of alliteration. WIP Wednesdays, Freelance Fridays, and now Motion Mondays. Well, Motion Mondays is a short email that we send out at the beginning of each week to keep you up to date on any news, events, tools, or work that's come out so you can be in the know. You can read it in like, a minute, and then you can just get on with your day, and impress your friends with your astounding knowledge of the industry. Right. So, to get the email just sign up for a free account at schoolofmotion.com, and then newsletter, and so much more can be yours. That is it for this one. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you have a lovely day.